The Intersection of Research and Philanthropy

Kristine Fortman ’91 still remembers her First-Year Seminar (freshman symposium) class at the College of Saint Benedict.

“I loved it,” she says. “I still remember that core group, the open thinking and challenging of ideas.”

Like many others, Kristine graduated from CSB with an experience that put her well beyond her years.

“The greatest gift my parents gave me was the opportunity to attend CSB,” the English major says. “It was a game changer for me. The professors at CSB encouraged me to be well rounded – I love quantitative and qualitative thinking and approaches. I love the intermingling of art and science.” 

As chief executive officer of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, the Roseville, Minnesota, native has helped build a local and national brand for one of the state’s most active cardiovascular health care research organizations.

“[I feel like I have] an opportunity to have a broad impact on an area that will be an ‘evergreen’ need,” she says. “I am thrilled to be building my career at the intersection of research and philanthropy.”

Following graduation from CSB, Kristine obtained a masters of communication and Ph.D. in health communications from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington.

Kristine started her career in the health care industry after accepting a position as a research associate working on physician initiated research at HealthPartners Research Foundation. In 2005, she began working as a clinical research manager for Medtronic, where she was responsible for the management of cardiovascular post market clinical trials.

Two years later, Kristine began to move up the corporate ladder. As global grant making and community affairs manager at Medtronic Foundation, she worked to develop global employee engagement and community involvement programs for Medtronic.

“CSB nurtured in me the comfort and confidence to speak up and seek answers,” Kristine says. “Because of my time at CSB, I have the expectation of always bringing my best self forward to do my best work each and every day.”

In 2013, her drive and urgency opened yet another door, and Kristine became director of global engagement at Medtronic Philanthropy where she created and grew programming that would increase access to chronic disease care for the underserved worldwide.

“Today I feel like all roads have led me to the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation,” she says. “I have the opportunity to lead an interdisciplinary group of experts to partner with best and brightest physicians to harness key research that will help lead us toward a world without heart and vascular disease. It is a great reason to get up every day.”